Equality and Justice in Life and Death. The Masque of the Red Death Essay Example

In Edgar Allen Poe’s story “The Masque of the Red Death” the character of death and disease, ‘The Red Death’ or simply Death for short, exemplifies the concept of justice to all living things, young, old, good or bad: fair in death, equal in death. The idea of justice can vary from individual to individual and can change based on the sin that has been committed. Also, what adds to how unattainable a solid definition for the idea is different perspectives of moral correctness of an individual’s actions. But no matter the interpretation, the definition of justice remains the same; just behavior or treatment.

Now, “The Masque of the Red Death” is commonly regarded as a short horror story for the gruesome scenes of blood and the daunting truth that displays mortality in all that is living. The point that the author, Poe,tries to get across is that the end, being death, is inevitable. No actions, thoughts, or ideas can stop death from coming. For most this idea seems quite disturbing and well, horrifying this is why it is viewed as a classic, gothic horror story. Death is equal in the lives it takes, it is indifferent to the precautions you take to avoid it, and is fair in the fact that it comes to all the living creatures that walk this Earth: this is why Death is just, it brings the bittersweet justice the souls of this world only get to experience once.

Equality is clearly evident in the works of death, prime examples can be found in Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”. Death comes to those beyond the bricks, the filthy poor commoners who are all overcome by the disease that ran through the infested streets; but Death also comes to those in the brightly painted walls of the fortress in which they conceal themselves from the fear and sickness that wait for them just outside. By the time the story comes to a close, few to none are left standing on the outside of the building, in knowing that one can conclude with confidence that Death has wiped out the lives of the children, of the middle aged, and the elderly. This too portrays that Death does not discriminate in the lives that it takes. True justice does not let  age, race, or gender affect the judgement or punishment of the individual. Death gracefully and equally comes to all living things no matter who they are.

Death came in the night to the dancers in the hall that hid from the darkness and despair that lived outside the walls “He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel…” (4) no matter the fact that they tried to elude fate itself, destiny caught up with them. Death does not care if you are wealthy or if you try to use your resources to keep him at bay, he will come regardless, in that way Death is comforting in its consistency and clarity that it can’t be avoided. The notion of death hangs over all living creatures because death has all control over all that is conscious. Death is fair for he knows not what he does and not of the lives he takes.

Death is the incurable infection of this planet, sure with some decisions you can prolong the infection killing you, you cannot get rid of it and it will eradicate us all when our time comes and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Some would try to debate that this proves Death is not justice, but rather a brutal executioner; what they might not see is that Death is even more just than any government because Death, unlike politicians, judges, or jurors, cannot be bought off and a person’s fate can’t be changed or swayed by meeting a set price. Death has no use for the material things of this world which makes him the most fair kind of justice and judgement.

Fairness is impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination. Death exemplifies this definition exactly for Death has no reason to choose favorites when there are no favors you can do for Death to get in his good graces. Although Death is painted as a more human character in this story, Death does not actually have a consciousness therefore he has no reason to discriminate, Death has no preferences or grudges.

The character of Death displays fairness “There was a sharp cry- and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwords, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero,” (4)he does not even one of the revelers standing not even the prince, he has not picked one person to continue living because of something they have done, he does not like any of them above the others. Animals and plants do not escape the touch of Death either, it does not discriminate against any kind of living creature. Even though plants, who do not have a conscious awareness and therefore do not have the mental capacity to even commit sin, their lives are still taken from them by Death’s cold hands. Death is fair because no one escapes and no one is immune to it no matter who or what they are or the social status or the place occupied on the food chain Death is simply equal across the board and fair to all.

Poe’s character of death is a symbol of truth, justice and light. Not all people will agree because they fear the eternal emptiness of death. It equally distributes power and justice to all living things.  Although might say the idea is on the darker side or twisted, but when it is thought through it is the one thing that is certain and accurate.



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